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Recap / Supergirl (2015) S1E6 "Red Faced"

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Supergirl is pitted against the military's newest prototype weapon: Red Tornado.


Tropes in this episode:

  • Adaptational Villainy: Red Tornado is a hero in the comics. Here, it's essentially a mindless drone controlled by a villain. Even when it gains sentience at the end, it remains antagonistic in the few seconds before Supergirl obliterates it with her heat vision.
  • Adaptive Ability: After being easily beaten by Supergirl in their first fight, Red Tornado comes back tougher, and creates a tornado as a distraction when it still can't win. This is the first hint that something is wrong, as it was never designed for that kind of thing. It turns out that Morrow was controlling it remotely, so he probably made upgrades after each failure (as hinted by the unexplained replacement of the arm Supergirl ripped off).
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  • Angry Black Man: Referenced by James. He knows this is a very bad trope, so he does his best to keep any anger he feels in check, and he's visibly grateful for the opportunity to let loose on a punching bag with Kara. (He uses a punching bag; she uses a car.)
  • Antagonist Title: The title is a reference to Red Tornado.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: General Lane believes the DEO (and humanity in general) is falling for this: lots of ugly, scary aliens with destructive powers out there, but Supergirl, with super strength, heat vision, and plenty of other powers that could be put to bad uses, is a pretty blonde, so people trust her.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: We see what happens if Kara ever truly loses control. Fortunately she does so against a robot.
  • Beware the Superman: Henshaw tells Supergirl that the reason people fear Superman is not because of who he is or what he does, but what he could do were he not so altruistic. General Lane goes full-out with this trope, cynically labeling Superman and Supergirl as no better than the monsters that the DEO puts away, opposing Henshaw's more skeptical take on this trope and willingness to give Supergirl the benefit of the doubt.
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  • Brought Down to Normal: While Supergirl's rage lets her beat the Red Tornado in the end, it also leads to her expending far more energy in her heat vision than is safe. When she cuts herself on some broken glass, she realizes she blew out her powers temporarily, leading into the plot of the next episode.
  • Bullying a Dragon: The road-raging driver in the beginning inexplicably decides to take a swing at Supergirl. She nearly breaks his arm before she remembers that he's just a vanilla mortal, contributing to her string of bad PR.
  • Curse Cut Short: The angry driver got his swear words cut off short twice: once against the other driver and again against Supergirl.
  • Double Standard: Cat warns Kara that women can't get away with being angry at work, even when men can. Physical violence, especially, is a complete scandal. She suggests Kara find another outlet for her anger.
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  • Eye Beams: Supergirl's heat vision gets a workout in this episode; she channels all of the rage she's been feeling into her attack on Red Tornado. The robot holds out for a surprising length of time before exploding spectacularly. The expenditure of energy is enough to render Supergirl temporarily Brought Down to Normal.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Kara's jealousy over James and Lucy comes up again, but she finally realizes the real problem; while the fact that she has feelings for James certainly doesn't help, what she's really jealous of is their relationship in general. She doesn't think she'll ever be able to have anything like that.
  • Hypocrite: When Henshaw insists he'll cancel the test if things look to be going too far, General Lane reminds him that he has no say in it. As soon as it's clear that Red Tornado is inferior, Lane tries to call the test off himself before Supergirl does any lasting damage.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Two times: Henshaw, who is pretty distrustful of aliens himself, scolds General Lane for his behaviour (especially towards Kara), and Cat Grant calls her mother out for being rude to Kara (which Cat herself is all the time).
  • I Choose to Stay: Lucy decides to resign from the Army and not to return with her father.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Kara grew up on Earth feeling different and hating it, but she didn't want to be a normal human, she wanted to be a normal Kryptonian. She thought becoming Supergirl would help, but that wasn't really normal for Kryptonians either, so in the end she just has to deal with it.
  • I'll Take Two Beers Too: The bartender plunks down two more martinis in front of Cat and Kara; when Kara protests that she's not done with her first, Cat grabs them both and asks in surprise if Kara wants another as well.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After Kara snaps at Cat for being mean, Cat takes her out for a drink. Over the course of the evening, Cat puts down three martinis before Kara can manage to finish one.
  • Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: When Morrow dies while neurally connected to Red Tornado, it jump starts its systems and grants it sentience—for about ten seconds, before it explodes under Supergirl's heat vision.
  • Jerkass:
    • General Lane, who fires Morrow because Red Tornado couldn't beat Supergirl, and sees James as not good enough for Lucy because of his job and association with aliens. He's also dismissive of Henshaw and the DEO, claiming that Army Intelligence would do just as good a job. And he later upbraids Kara for lettin Red Tornado escape (when if she'd gone after it, dozens of people would have been injured or killed by the vortex it generated).
    • Cat's mother, who rubs her own successes in Cat's face while deliberately downplaying her daughter's.
  • Mythology Gag: Kara getting her finger cut at the end of the episode, implying she has lost her powers from overusing her heat vision, is slightly lifted from the New 52 Superman Story Arc Men of Tomorrow, who loses his abilities after using the "solar flare", an evolution of his heat vision technique. This will have repercussions in the next episode, "Human for a Day", when she doesn't have access to her Kryptonian powers in the midst of a disaster.
    • Additionally, Kara using her heat vision is almost a near panel-by-panel recreation of Superman using it from Men of Tomorrow.
    • Kara losing her powers and discovering it because of cutting her finger at work is also the cliffhanger at the end of the latest run of the Supergirl comic.
  • Never My Fault: General Lane immediately blames Supergirl for his robot going rogue. Sure, it happened because she didn't stop fighting when she should have, but no one told her it had self-preservation protocols.
    Supergirl: You told me to fight it, and I fought it.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Kara and her friends are playing Scattergories and Winn is terrible as Kara's partner, he pulls a card out and says, "Oh, this one's easy. Your cousin." While Lucy is in the room. Thankfully, Lucy completely misses the hint. While Winn scrambles to invent a story about how a cousin of Kara's would make him think of Superman without being Superman, Lucy ignores him and changes the subject.
    • When Cat is taking out her anger at her mother on Kara, Kara snaps at her for being mean. She then immediately apologizes when she realizes she just yelled at her boss. Cat realizes that both of them just vented misdirected anger at each other, however, and takes Kara out for drinks and a pep talk.
  • Percussive Therapy: Kara and James agree to have something to punch to release their anger.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • During their second battle, when Red Tornado is again overpowered, it creates a tornado to force Kara to choose between stopping it and saving those threatened by the tornado.
    • Morrow is controlling Red Tornado mentally during the final battle, making Alex choose between killing him or letting Red Tornado keep attacking Supergirl. Her hesitation is enough to allow him to knock her gun away, though he gets shot in a struggle when he then picks it up.
  • Stepford Smiler: Kara gets James to help her let out some anger by boxing (him with a bag, her with a car) because girls are taught to smile and keep their problems inside. James admits that black men have the same problem, as part of society's fear of the Angry Black Man trope.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: When she finishes her complaints, she says that she is angry because she would not have a normal life.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: General Lane has this in spades. He is calling out Supergirl despite she saved his life.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Kara has been building her rage over being out of place on Earth for years, and unleashes all her power into her heat vision to vaporize Red Tornado. This proves unwise, as she expends too much energy and temporarily renders herself normal.
  • Wham Shot: During the last scene Kara cuts herself with a normal piece of glass, indicating that she's been Brought Down to Normal. She's been hurt before (by Vartox's axe in the first episode), but her reaction clearly indicates that this is the first time since arriving on Earth that she's had a 'normal' injury.

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